The first home games of the volleyball season kicked off on Sept. 15 and 16 with two hard-fought losses from the Cyclones.
As over 120 rowdy supporters, crowded into bleachers, they witnessed devastating defeats as Mills lost to opposing teams Bethany University and Menlo College, two of the top four volleyball teams in Division III.
Bethany University competed against the Cyclones on Saturday night at the Haas Pavillion Gym. The match against Menlo College took place Sunday.
The two losses, while disappointing for the team and supporters alike, were hardly crushing defeats. The Cyclones fought bravely to the end, especially on Saturday, with two games won and three games lost.
“It started out rough,” said Coach Daniel Rasay, “but the way we came back to win the next game and in game four is definitely an indication of the team’s capabilities.”
In volleyball, the team who wins best out of five games wins the entire match. Saturday’s edge-of-your-seat game was barely a loss to Bethany. The fifth and deciding game ultimately resulted in a defeat.
“We had the lead, 7-2, in the fifth game but then unforseen errors and our inability to side out [regain serving of the ball] gave Bethany six straight points. We came to a tie at 11 but lost our control again when they scored four straight points,” said Rasay. “We played well, but I know we can play better.”
The second game on Sunday was less dramatic, with three straight games lost at a disappointing 30-25, 30-17, and 30-21.”The first game was really competitive but errors on our part let the other team pull some points away and we weren’t consistent enough to stay in the match,” said Rasay.
Even though the Cyclones lost, it was evident by the effort on the court and by statistics collected and filed by Elese Lebsack, Compliance and Sports Info Director, that the team’s skills have undoubtedly improved.
Junior Danielle Thurlow-LaRue, a recent addition to the team, came out with 46 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore Cristin Allen had 14 kills during the match against Bethany, and sophomore Isidora Jimenez impressively made 16 digs during the Menlo match.
Sophomore Sally Espinosa, however, came out on top this weekend with a total of 27 kills and 23 digs and an unusually high hitting percentage of 0.414 in the match against Bethany.
As a result of these statistics, Espinosa, who’s played on the team since her freshman year, has been named Association of
Division III Independents’ Volleyball Player of the Week, a title won only by a collection and comparison of statistics with other volleyball teams in the same division.
“This is the best I’ve ever played my whole life during those two games. And it was really the whole crowd, the Mills crowd, that gave me this great energy,” said Espinosa.
“It was also the first time that I was really in the zone, where I didn’t care about winning and I just assumed that if I played my hardest I could win.”